Hajim Spotlights

Demetrious Dowdell

Class year: 2020
Major: optical engineering

Where did you intern?

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

What work did you do as an intern?
I worked on the design and testing of a spectrometer to study the atmosphere of a specific planet.

How did you obtain this opportunity? What was the application process like?
I applied through USA Jobs. The application process involved the creation of a government resume and an interview.

Did you work with anyone to help find and/or pursue this opportunity?
I met someone at a talk about graduate schools and she told me about the application.

What did you gain from this experience?

In my field, I learned how to use Zemax and CodeV® while gaining an understanding of how to analyze the optics that we order for the project. In addition, I realized how to successfully establish a work-life balance. This helped me see that I enjoy trying new activities and exploring (whether it is a hiking trip or just skating in a new city).

Any particularly memorable experiences?
I loved building something that I designed on a computer. It started out as a prototype that my co-worker sent to me, but then many people from different disciplines worked together to build this system and make sure it worked properly.

Any advice for other students who are interested in pursuing an internship?
No matter how intimidating the application process if, you should just apply. I felt intimidated by the application, so I almost didn’t apply. The worst-case scenario of applying is getting a no, but the worst-case of not applying is the lost chance.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that wasn’t asked?
Going into everything with an open mind was very important throughout the summer. If I didn’t do so, I would have never tried new things such as swimming through the rapids while white water tubing. Even though this is just a random experience, the mindset definitely helped me adjust to a new environment and network with other interns.

Questions? Ask Demetrious!